Toronto-founded MAC Cosmetics is one of those rare brands that people in every country can recognize, like Coca-Cola, Apple and Nike. For many in the beauty industry and the majority of beauty bloggers for sure, they set the standards for professional and hobbyist makeup alike. Their prices are competitive and they offer an appealing discount for licensed makeup artists to build their kits. With fashionable spokespersons and sought-after seasonal releases they are the epitome of what it means to be a 21st century brand, and when I got lucky enough to work with them this winter I knew I had to make it special.
Our collaboration, which was set to highlight their Pro line and the MAC Aids Fund, took on a life of its own. So many creative people came together to work on the project that it became as much about the talented individuals as about the products themselves. My colleague and makeup artist Stefanie Brown was the first person to share my vision for the collaboration, and she enlisted her friends in turn. With our crew assembled we met at a studio to start shooting our ambitious body painting concept, and I am all too excited to share that journey with you. You can watch the complete transformation in the video above.
For stage one of the makeover Stefanie and her assistant Alycia Bimm used the Chromacakes that MAC had provided us with to create the illusion of a tuxedo on model Nikita Rudakov. The crazy part is the whole thing took only three colours! The Chromacakes ($32 each*) are highly pigmented pucks of colour that activate with water and can be used for anything from fake tattoos to graphic eyeliner. They dry quickly but can be reenergized with a spray of water to create gradients, as seen in the video. They don’t stain the skin, have a natural-looking matte finish, and didn’t transfer on any of the expensive equipment we were using (phew!). Stefanie and Alycia created the tuxedo, which wraps around Nikita’s entire body, in roughly two hours. For the pocket square they had the brilliant idea to use the Miley Cyrus Viva Glam lipstick, which is a super bright pink that stayed on through all the hot lights and long shooting day.
I want to take a moment to talk about this lipstick just a bit more, because as small as it is it was what brought us together. Miley is part of a long legacy of celebrities that worked with MAC to release collectible lipsticks and “Lipglass” that support the MAC Aids Fund, a charity founded in ’94. 100% of the selling price of each such lipstick goes towards community outreach the world over for men, women and children affected by HIV/Aids. Just one lipstick purchased can deliver 37 life-saving healthy meals to those in need, or something as essential as two safer-sex kits to prevent the spread of the virus. Millions of dollars have gone to this cause since it began and I make it a point to purchase each edition to show my personal support. Everyone involved in this project donated their time and skills in the name of the initiative, too. You can find Ariana Grande’s matte deep plum shade on counters and online now, and knowing that you’re making a difference while looking fly is the cherry on top.
After photographer James Priolo and his assistant Craig Bagol snapped some amazing photos of the tuxedo, we proceeded to stage two. As Easter is right around the corner, we thought it would be fun to incorporate the holiday into the photo shoot. So back to makeup we went, and an hour and a half later Nikita’s face had been transformed into none other than the Easter Bunny! Stefanie used the black Chromacake and copious amounts of hair gel to create an optical illusion on Nikita’s face, which James captured beautifully in his photos. We had so much fun coming up with poses for our model, and when the final snap had been taken we were all exhausted but satisfied. Every person involved had proven that when you pair the right tools and materials with an artistic and curious mind, great things can happen.
It’s now that I get to express my sincere gratitude to the participants in the shoot, both on my end and on MAC’s end. I look forward to learning more about unique products like the Chromacakes and realizing even grander visions with the help of my new friends. I hope you too get to live out your wildest fantasies. Truly, anything can happen when creativity comes together.
*Prices true at time of writing.
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